At Work

Five tips for dressing for success

You take immense pride in your sense of style and your wardrobe is envied by your peers. While you’ve mastered the rules on dressing to impress the outside world, office work wear is an entirely different ballgame (unless your name is Erin Brockovich).

Dressing for the office is an integral part of getting ahead – after all, no manager is going to want to promote a messy-attired subordinate, or one who dresses inappropriately.

However, fret not as you don’t necessarily have to settle on wearing sombre two-piece suits. Since ten years ago, the rules for workplace-dressing have changed for the better. You’re given more liberty to showcase your personality, albeit in a tasteful manner.

Whether you’re of either gender, here are five tips to consider when putting together an effortlessly stylish wardrobe that’s primed to make you look your best as you climb the ladder of any industry you’re in.

1 Dress for the position you want

People form their opinions about you within the first minute, whether or not you actually say anything. This makes your manner of clothing even more imperative. A neat, unique and polished outfit says “I take pride in myself and my work” more than you can imagine.

When you take the effort to pay attention to your dressing, this builds the confidence that your supervisors have in you that you can represent them and the company well.

Now if you have great dreams for your professional success, it is worthy to dress like you mean it. Think about the kind of personality you want to exude and put together outfits that showcase this.

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2 Consider your audience

While it is generally true that you do not have to look to a plain grey suit to succeed in the workplace anymore, it is also worth noting that you should always consider what your work environment is like.

For example, your dress style is going to be different if you work as a graphic designer rather than a banker. This has to do with the people you are dealing with, a.k.a. your audience.

The rule of thumb is the more money you deal with, the lesser risks you should take with your style. For example, those in the finance industry might have to judiciously choose the right places to showcase their style rather than going for a two-piece decadent print garb.

3 Key investments

Every closet could use a few investment-worthy pieces. For men, a dapper suit in black or navy is a wonderful investment. If possible, get it tailored; otherwise, ensure that it fits perfectly – a frumpy suit will not do you any justice whatsoever.

Other pieces you may want to invest in are a pair of classic dress shoes and a handsome timepiece.

For women, a sumptuous leather handbag that matches a variety of looks can go a long way. Other basic fashion articles include sophisticated black heels, a sharp, fitted black blazer and a crisp white shirt with a form-flattering silhouette.

4 A pop of colour

Add a dash of vitality to your attire with choice colours. Hues like emerald and sapphire add a touch of elegance to an ensemble, while colours like pink and yellow can brighten up any look.

Try to think about where you would like to add this pop of colour – maybe a shirt or your jewellery. Donning a pink shirt and skirt simultaneously might be a little bit hard for others to digress.

5 Accessorise

Accessories are a great way to showcase your personality and style in a tasteful manner. For ladies, choose a bold accessory to match your outfit, perhaps a necklace or earrings.

For men, ties are a great way to play up a shirt. To really showcase your penchant for style, take a bold step and wear a tie that complements, rather than matches, your shirt. For those evening functions, consider foregoing a tie for a printed pocket square.

Based in the United States, freelance writer Joanne Nayagam is embarking on a journey of proportions with pen and paper in hand and ideas to boot. To get in touch with her, drop an email to


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